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I Had a Bone Infection in my Face and Didn't Know it.

How injury and illness made me realize what I really wanted.

By Liana HillandPublished 2 years ago 9 min read

I had been practicing as a Massage Therapist for 5 years and business was booming. I decided to build a practice on my own so that I had as much freedom as I wanted. It was a lot of work but it was paying off. I was teaching anatomy at a local Massage College, teaching infant massage classes to new moms and dads to promote bonding with their babies, and helping pregnant women as a Doula (birth coach). I was incredibly busy. But busy doesn’t mean happy. I was sick. All. The. Time. Throat, eye, mouth, lung, bladder infections. Scrapes took forever to heal. Pain…. all over the place. I always had something. But every time I went to the doctor or a specialist I was deemed healthier than average. I just assumed that I was weak. Besides feeling like crap all the time I didn’t have a particular reason to be unhappy. I had a wonderful family, great boyfriend, we recently bought an apartment, I had gotten a new car a couple of years before and had just gotten back from a trip to Holland to visit extended family. It felt like I had all of this great stuff but I didn’t really want any of it. I would tell someone about things I was up to and they’d they would say “Wow! That’s so great”. All I would think was “Is it? I guess so…”

Soon after returning from my trip, I had what I used to call “the week from hell”. I received a cease and desist order over my business name, my office building caught fire eliminating my place of work, and then I was in a head-on car accident. All within 1 week. All right before Christmas. My business name had been taken away, then my actual place of business, and now I couldn’t even massage if I wanted to. And you know what? I didn’t even care.

But life goes on and I had bills to pay. I avoided the lawsuit, found a new place to practice, and with the exception of a little post-traumatic stress I had recovered from my accident. Things seemed to be going better but I had been feeling really, really sick and tired. I started to get a bump on the roof of my mouth and after a week it was still there so I went to the dentist. He told me I needed a root canal. That’s weird? How can a tooth be totally fine at my last check-up and then be so badly infected it needs a root canal. My dentist was going on holiday so I decided to see a biological dentist. I wanted to find out if this infection could be contributing to my overall health problems.

The biological dentist said that it could be related but would have to see after the root canal. He wanted to do a CT scan just to make sure they saw everything. As I waited for the results I could hear a few hygienists whisper gasps to the doctor just outside of the door. “Please don’t be about me..”, I thought. I saw his face when he walked in and instantly knew it was bad news. The infection was over 3 of my teeth, halfway up to my eye, over the whole left side of the roof of my mouth, and infected a nerve that lead back to my brain. I had a look at the scan and saw the massive black spot where bone was supposed to be. I was going to need expensive surgery to have those teeth removed. I would need to get the infection scraped out and have a bone graft. I would need to have a second surgery to be able to put new teeth in. I would need to be off for at least 6 weeks. And this all needed to happen soon since he was really worried the infection would spread to my brain.

He asked me what pain killers I was taking. I told him none. “How are you just sitting there?” he said. “How come you’re not crying in pain?”.

“I am. I’m in horrible pain.” I said. “I’ve always been in pain. So I taught myself to stop crying about it. No one wants to spend time with someone who cries all the time.”

And how could this infection happen, you ask? A bike accident at age 7 caused me to break my top two front teeth. The bacteria got in then. Apparently, my body wasn’t weak. It was strong. It had kept the infection in check for 21 years but after all the stress of the past few months, it couldn’t take it anymore.

I cried the whole hour's drive home. Not because I would need surgery and not because I had no idea how to pay my mortgage ( I was the main breadwinner at the time) but because I finally knew I wasn’t crazy. My family doctor had sent me for every test under the sun. Nothing ever came up. I had come to the conclusion that I was just over-sensitive and weak. I remember lying awake as a little girl. My pain was always worse at night because there are no distractions. I would say to myself. “It’s ok. It’s just growing pains. Doctor says they’ll go away soon”. It didn’t occur to me that they probably weren’t growing pains until I was in my early 20’s. I still had those pains and hadn’t grown for the past 7 years.

I went to my appointment with the surgeon and he was quite surprised I had such a bad infection so long after the date that I injured my teeth. Most people who have one similar to me are elderly, diabetic, obese, and don’t take care of their teeth. I was perfectly healthy…. besides this massive infection…so he opted for a less invasive method. Drain the fluid, a root canal and then we wait. And as long as I slowly keep getting better we keep waiting.

I was conflicted. Even though I didn’t have major surgery I still had paid for a lot of medical treatment and needed time off to rest. I lost money from the fire, accident, and lawsuit. I had to move to another office because I couldn’t afford the high rent at the place I had just moved into. I had bills and a mortgage. I had to keep working. I would go to work and have to keep myself from bursting into tears. I would come home from only a couple of hours of work and be shaking. I was sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I would sleep during my lunch break. My patients would ask me how I was and I would get the urge to laugh in their face which was then followed by the urge to fall on the ground balling. My stress was through the roof. My nervous system felt like it was on fire.

But I made it my mission to get well. I completely changed my diet, promised myself to rest the second I felt tired, I got intravenous therapy and took tons of supplements to help keep my immune system up.

The antibiotics I was on were tough on my body and made me so exhausted I could barely function (not that I was functioning well before). I quit my job teaching, stopped the infant massage classes, stopped all the doula work, took some time off, and then when I did start work again I only massaged half the amount of people as before.

Besides sleeping and making green juice I spent my extra time watching youtube videos on self-improvement, mindfulness, and spirituality. I began to realize the thought that I had been trying to keep out of my mind since the day of the car accident was true.

I didn’t want this. Any of it. The job, the car, the apartment everything in my life seemed meaningless. I created my life, but I somehow managed to create a life that I hated. I loved my boyfriend, my friends, and family, for whom I am very grateful, but everything else I could do without. Things were just tools to use but all seemed completely void of meaning. What I valued were experiences and relationships.

I thought about why I decided to build my life this way. When I looked at every decision I had made the answer was always to appease people. Then once I made a decision it had a natural progression. It was never to please one particular person. It was to keep everyone, including myself just happy enough not to object. Everyone has an opinion and for some reason, I had opened the floor up to every person I had ever met. Seriously…every person. People told me about what I’m good at, what I was too smart to do, what I’d like, what I’d make money doing, what would be too difficult for me, what I wasn’t physically able to do, what I wasn’t smart enough for, what I wasn’t talented at. At some point, I started giving more credence to the voices outside my head than the voice inside my heart.

So I decided to change my mind and make some promises. Unhealthy food meant anything that was processed in any way. A full workday now meant 8 hours at work counting from the second I arrived and included breaks. I would only spend time with people who had a good outlook on life and were kind. I promised myself to create a life I loved once I started to get better. One that filled my heart and allowed me to do all the things I always wanted.

So, although it is over a year later and I am not yet 100% better I’m ready to start making a life I love. It’s not that I hate my job, my apartment, my car. It’s more that I didn’t make those decisions because I was trying to create a life I loved. And from now on that’s my goal.

I want to inspire people to be their best selves. To be healthier and happier. To be kind to one another. To follow their dreams and ditch the idea that everything you do has fit within what society thinks you should do. (society is crazy…they don’t know…. don't listen to them!)

It’s hard not to listen to society’s overwhelming voice. The things I’d like to help others with are still the things I struggle to do on a regular basis for myself. I’m not perfect but I don’t think there’s a need to be. If you don’t feel well something is going on. In your body or in your brain. You shouldn’t wallow in the way you feel but take responsibility for it and then focus on what makes you happy. Find changes you can that help your body and mind. It’s important to remember that they are not separate entities but part of the same being that is you. If one is upset the other will be too. Find someone who can help you. Doctor, naturopath, physiologist, … or massage therapist 😉

Originally from my old blog Mountains Into Molehills

Written July 2014

self help

About the Creator

Liana Hilland

I always seem to find a way for my jobs to involve writting. When they don't or it's not enough, I add it in. I'm the owner of an advertsing agency, a voice actor and a busy parent.

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